Ukraine: The Historical Timeline

Since the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has rightly become headline news and a major talking point. Before February, it is fair to argue that many people around the world could not have even pointed out the location of that country on a global map, but because of the situation now, it seems clear that almost every country except India, China, and Belarus is on the side of Ukraine. I thought it was time to look at the history, and perhaps put current events in some context. I will use short points to illustrate it.

*Known as Kievan Rus until the 12th century AD, Ukraine later came under control of the Polish/Lithuanian empire from 1569 until 1686. It was then divided, with half ceded to Russia. After 1795, modern day Ukraine was ruled equally between the Austrian Empire and Russia.

*Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the long civil war that followed, Ukraine eventually became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, in 1922. In the early 1930s, up to five million people starved to death in Ukraine following a great famine. Some people believe that this was a deliberate act by the central government in Moscow.

*When Germany invaded Ukraine in 1941, Ukrainian nationalists fought against both Germany and the Soviet Union, hoping to achieve independence. Many other Ukrainians collaborated openly with the Nazis, even forming regiments in the Waffen SS, part of the German army. They saw the Germans as liberators from Soviet control. Some joined the pro-German Auxiliary Police, others served willingly as guards in Concentration Camps, including Treblinka. In September 1941, 34,000 Jews were executed in just two days outside Kiev, at the Babi Yar ravine. They were shot by German SS and SD troops, assisted by Ukrainian Auxiliary Police and antsemitic volunteers. Other Ukrainians fought against the Germans by serving in the Soviet Red Army.

*From the end of WW2 until 1991, Ukraine remained as part of the Soviet Union, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic having some self-government, as well as its own place on the United Nations Security Council. In 1954, Crimea was transferred from central control to become part of the Ukrainian SSR.

*After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Ukraine declared independence in 1991, with 90% of the voters in the country voting for independence. (Only around 50% in Crimea)

*In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, and pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence from Ukraine, precipitating a war in the Donbass Region that was ongoing (with some Russian support) until the recent Russian invasion. In 2021, pro-Russian Russian-language TV channels were banned in Ukraine. Also in 2021, NATO announced that Ukraine could become a member if it met certain criteria, but not as long as it was still at war with separatists in the Donbass region, and involved in disputes with Russia over the territory of Crimea.

*The Far Right, Neo-Nazi Azov battalions are militia groups that have fought against separatists in the Donbass Region since 2014. They were formed by Andriy Biletsky, an ultra-nationalist political figure who previously led groups including the openly neo-Nazi Social-National Assembly (SNA), which preached an ideology of racial purity for Ukraine. They were formally integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard, in 2014. It is their presence on the battlefield that gave Putin his flimsy ‘justification’ for “ridding Ukraine of Nazis”.

Maps: Native Americans

Continuing my interest in maps, I found these three, which compare the locations of native North American tribes before settlers arrived with where they are living today.
(The maps can be enlarged by clicking on them)

A map designed by Native North Americans themsleves, depicting their history.

A more modern map, showing a European view of tribal locations in America and Canada at the time of the arrival of foreign settlers.

This map shows the current dispersal of Native Americans in modern-day USA.

Birthday Boy: Ten Today!

One of the earliest photos of Ollie, taken in 2012. He is smaller than his stuffed gorilla.

When we got him then, I had no idea what a huge part of my life he would become. During that time, he has gained popularity on my blog, and we have hardly been separated. He has suffered from various medical conditions, undergone numerous operations, and has always remained devoted and loyal to me, whatever happened.

You could not imagine a better-behaved dog, especialy one who has had no training whatsoever. He just knows how to to do things, and doesn’t need to be told. Since he was a tiny wrinkled pup, he has stuck by my side at all times.

He loves to go out in the car with me, and his daily walks are a joy for both of us, despite the often heavy rain. He has kept me fit, and become my best friend into the bargain.

For his special birthday today, he has a dinner of beef sausages, and two new stuffed toys. Both are types he has never had before. A Penguin, and a Walrus.


‘Subject’, not Citizen

I am reblogging this post from 2012, as hardly anyone has seen it. Be warned that it contains very strong opinions about the British Royal Family. If you are a Royalist, you may want to skip reading it. 🙂


It has long fascinated me that people in other countries are so taken with the British Royal Family. They seem to dwell on the death of Lady Diana Spencer, and fawn embarrassingly, should any of them bother to visit their lands. I exclude Quebec, and some of the Antipodean peoples in this generalisation of course, but I think you know what I mean? It would also appear that the Royals are much-loved in their homeland, from news reports, and public attendance at festivities concerning them, or where they are due to appear.

Recent celebrations for both the Jubilee, and Olympics, have shown them, especially the Queen, to be at a height of popularity, not seen since the War. She even appeared in a promotional film, with the current James Bond, which was shown to open the games. I have to admit, that most people I talk to, believe having a…

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Rome Around The World

When we think of the Roman Empire, the first things that comes to mind for most of us are the wonderfully preserved ancient buildings in the Italian capital. The Colosseum, Trajan’s Column, The Panthenon, and The Palace of Caesar Augustus. I have been to Rome, and enjoyed seeing all those sights,

But the Romans had a huge empire, covering much of the known world, and it is not only in Italy that you can see evidence of their presence.

Amman, the capital of Jordan.

Tunisia, in North Africa.

Armenia, in the city of Garni.

The city walls of Lugo, Spain.

France, the city of Arles.

France, the city of Nimes.

Algeria, the ancient city of Timgad.

Turkey, the city of Side.

Libya. Roman Sabathra.

England. The city of Bath.

Just a snapshot of the remains of Roman civilsation around the world, places that we can still visit today.

Guest Post: Robbie Cheadle

I am delighted to host a guest post from author, blogger, and cake-maker extraordinaire, Roberta Cheadle. This is an interesting historical account, connected to the same time period as her latest novel.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

The story of Jurgens Nieman (10 December 1898 – 27 July 1900)

During the second phase of the Second Anglo Boer War, hundreds of Boer women fled into the veld to evade the British forces. The took their children, trusted native African workers and some livestock with them. This was an attempt to escape capture and imprisonment in concentration camps.

Jurgen’s Albertus Nieman was born on the 10th of December 1989, the son of a Boer scout also named Jurgens Albertus Nieman who was never wounded or captured throughout the war. Jurgens Senior and his 14-year-old son Jacobus Johannes fled the siege at Paardeberg under General Cronje on a young horse which had neither a saddle nor a bridle.
Jurgens’ Senior’s wife, Anna Elizabeth, had been left on their farm. When the British troops neared their home, she fled with her four young children in a horse-drawn cart, together with a small flock of sheep and a single trusted native African herdsman.

On the 26th of July 1900, Anna Elizabeth and her children were caught. The British soldiers loaded them into an open ox-wagon to be transported to the Klerksdorp Concentration Camp. During the day, other families were captured and joined the wagon train.

The following morning, Anna Elizabeth and the children walked over to another ox-wagon to meet a new family. Jurgens suddenly began to fidget and fuss. When his mother picked him up to comfort him, blood trickled onto her hands from a head wound.

On inspection, she found that her son had been shot in the head. English fire was taking place in the distance, and Jurgens was struck by a stray bullet. The baby died that evening and was buried in a shallow grave at the side of the road. A plank detailing his name and other details was planted at the site of the grave.
Fourteen days later, his father passed the grave. He found his son’s body almost perfectly preserved due to the cold weather. He took the casket with him and re-buried it at Rustfontein farm.

This is the bonnet that Jurgens Nieman was wearing when he was shot. The bloodstains are still visible. At this time, baby boys were often dressed in bonnets and dresses.

A Ghost and His Gold, a paranormal historical novel partially set during the Second Anglo Boer War, written by Roberta Eaton Cheadle describes similar tragic deaths of young children.

This is a short extract:
“A few moments later, Annette Smit enters the tent with her children, who’ve been waiting patiently for her outside the tent. She lies the dead body of her baby down on a blanket. Dropping into a seated position on the hard ground, she sits, rocking herself to and fro, and keening softly.
Her worn and seemingly bloodless body is that of an old woman and the large eyes in her white face are wild and haunted. The death of her infant on top of the recent losses of her oldest son and toddler seem to have broken something deep within her mind. It is frightening to watch.
Hatred for the camp supervisor who denied the baby a few drops of brandy constricts Estelle’s throat. The baby is dead. She’ll never take her first steps, laugh and play with her older brothers and sisters or go to school. The camp supervisor did nothing to try and save her. In Estelle’s mind, he is a murderer. Taking deep breaths, Estelle attempts to unwind the knot of anger in her stomach
Marta looks at Annette, her eyes are sympathetic. “It’s better that the baby died,” she says. “She’s now at peace with our Father.”
Tannie [Aunt] Sannie’s eyes flash anger. “The camp supervisor could have tried to help! Surely he could have found a few drops of brandy for Annette’s baby somewhere.”
“That is true, Sannie, but God expects you to forgive him. He’ll not forgive our individual sins if we bear grudges against someone else. Worse yet, such feelings, if not repented, could cause Him to turn away from our people and our cause.””

A Ghost and His Gold
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
Through the Nethergate
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at:


Purchase Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s books
TSL Books (paperback) (ebook)
A Ghost and His Gold:
Through the Nethergate:
Amazon US

Robbie is a fully-engaged blogger, and a valued part of our wider blogging community. She also writes in many different genres and themes, with something that will appeal to everyone. Please follow the links to find out more about her, read her posts, and perhaps buy some of her books too.

Think Twice About Cutting Down Trees

I found this photo online. It made me even more convinced that we need to think twice about cutting down trees that were not deliberately cultivated for timber.

This tree was felled in America, in 1891.

It started growing in 550 AD.

Before Mohammed was born.
Before The Battle of Hastings
Before America was discovered.
Before the Declaration of Independence.
Before The Battle of Waterloo.
Before the US Civil War.

Compared to that tree, we humans live our entire lives in the blink of an eye.

My Blog Name: A Clarification

Since it is new year, and I have a lot of new followers, I thought it was about time to explain my blog name once again.

My first name is Pete. (Well, Peter. But I prefer Pete.)

Beetley is a place, a village in Norfolk near the town of Dereham, in the east of England. Here is proof.

Beetley is not my surname.

It has nothing to do with beetle insects, Volkswagen Beetle cars, or the English band The Beatles.

It is derived from an ancient Anglo-Saxon word, ‘Betel'(also ‘Bietel’), meaning a wooden mallet or hammer. This area was known for the production of Oak hammers and mallets during the Anglo-Saxon period. (410AD until 1066AD)

So when I started this blog in 2012, I chose the name of where I live, and my first name, coming up with ‘Beetleypete’.

Not very exciting or inventive, but there you go.

Exploring London’s Pubs: A Video Guide

Robert Lordan is a licenced London Black Taxi driver, and a great blogger and writer too. He has a love of London, and wonderful knowledge about the history of that city too.

He has produced a 13-minute video on You Tube, looking at ten famous London pubs. In his London accent, he describes the buildings, the history, and the often quirky details concerning each pub.

I am pleased to report that in my 60 years in London, I have had a drink in nine of the ten pubs featured. Only the one in Brixton escaped my patronage.

He covers a wide variety, all over the capital, and some of them were also featured in my own blog post about historic London pubs.

If you live in or near London, or are thinking of visiting the city as a tourist, this is an essential guide to some fascinating places to have a drink in while you are there.

Exploring London’s Pubs

Video: Another London Walk

My friend Antony has sent me another very interesting video from Joolz, the London tour guide. This time, he walks around Fitzrovia, delving into the fascinating history of the area, and some of the quirky shops and buildings too. I often walked through those streets to get to work, and as I lived close to the Post Office Tower which is seen in the film, it brought back a lot of memories for me.

If you ever visit London, you might never see this district, but it is so close to some of the traditional tourist sights, it is worth a short diversion.

The clip is just over twenty minutes long.